BOY SOLDIERS OF WASHINGTON The Scott Guards

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, September 16, 1911 [pt. 2, p. 11]

Whatever the opinion of older peple as to preparations for war from the earliest days, young America has shown its delight in things military, and in school days nothing appealed with stronger fascination in a boy's imagination than the histor of achievements of military heroes. Here in the District, in ante-bellum days, there were many military officers on duty at the War Department, but aside from the marines at the barracks, and marine guard at the navy yard, and less than fifty ordnance men at the arsenal, the site of which is now occupied by the War College, and a few uniformed companies of the volunteer militia, there were no signs of military spirit. The boys, however, formed companies and at one time nearly every section of the city had its juvenile corps, and whenever there was talk of war the military spirit showed itself in the other companies filling up and the youth formed companies, not infrequently using wooden guns or spears.

It is a matter of tradition that during the war of 1812 some of the youths of Capitol Hill were organized as an infantry company under William Hickey, who in after years was prominent in the volunteer militia, and at the outbreak of the war, as a brigadier general, was ordered to the field by President Lincoln. In consequence, however of the call for special session of Congress, he was recalled to his position of executive clerk of the Senate.

German on His Staff
On his staff were A.P. Gorman, then an officer of the Senate, who afterward for many years was a senator from Maryland, and A.H. Ragan, also an officer of the Senate, now a resident of this city, and they, too, testified their duties in that body, in the twenties and thirties there were other junior companies here. One of them was commanded by Capt. W.W. Moore, long connected with the Intelligencer and with the District military, who was the father of Col. William G. Moore, for many years commander of the Washington Light Infantry. There was also the Washington Junior Artillery, Capt F.H. Williams, which was succeeded by the "Rough and Ready" Artillery of Capitol Hill, Capt. D.W. Robinson. Later there were the Marion Rifles, Capt. E.G. Schaffer, who subsequently commanded the National Rifles. Capt. Schaffer refused to go in the Union service and entered that of the Confederacy, the Green Mountain Boys; Capt. Donald McCathran, at the navy yard, the members of which company subsequently formed the Washington Light Guard. There was a company of boys north of the patent office of which Gen. H.C. King, U.S.A., retired, now of New York, was a captain, and some others. Most of the boys were between fifteen and eighteen years of age, and on reaching that age they entered the older companies such as the President's Mounted Guards, Washington Light Infantry, the National Blues, afterward the Grays, German Yeagers, Montgomery Guards and others, and during the civil war not a few of these boys were to be found in the military service of the United States or Confederate States.

In the fifties a junior company bore the name of Scott Guards, of which Baker A. Jamison, now of New York, was the captain and leading spirit. Capt. Jamison had been a student at Capt. Partridge's Military School at Brandywine Springs, Del. He and several of the boys ranging from fifteen to eighteen years of age were employed about the Capitol, some of them as pages, and among them were E.R. McKean, Eli Duvall, James N. Callan, George R. Chase and Andrew H. Williams, second and third lieutenants at different times; Jerome Chase, ensign; Jack Keyworth, orderly sergeant; A.H. Jones, Thomas Withers, James O. Withers, Mack Wallingsford, Thomas Cox, A.P. Gorman, Clayton Mockabee, Robert Hepburn, Lewis Behrens, Charles P. Crandall and Charles Massey. This company existed in the years 1854-5 and 6. The members as they became of age usually continued in the military service by uniting with the older companies of uniformed militia and during the Civil War not a few of them did service on one or the other side.

Gen. Scott Their Hero
Capt. Jamison says that to most of the boys of that period "Gen. Winfield Scott was a hero of heroes and the name Scott Guards was a natural selecton of all." Our uniforms consisted of blue jacket and trousers, white in summer, the stripe down the seam, the officers' stripes and epaulettes being gold. The regulation infantry hat, with white plume, blue tipped for officers and red tipped for men. This might have been sufficient for boys of our age, but our ambition was higher nothing less than to become a recognized part of the District militia would content us.

"Intent on becoming a part of the regular District militia, I called upon the Secretary of War and asked that commissions be issued to our officers, all of whom had reached the age of eighteen. He received me with the soldier-like manner which was characteristic of him, and promised to grant our wishes. A few days later, in fact, we received the precious commissions, signed by Franklin Pierce, President, and Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War. We were then full-fledged military men and felt very proud. Our officers were supposed to furnish their own side arms, but as a regular commissioned company we were entitled to government arms. The muskets issued that day were far too heavy for the boys to carry, and we were compelled to buy smaller and lighter ones. In this we were aided by a number of kind friends, who subscribed the requisite $400. Among them were W.W. Corcoran, the banker; Gen. Lewis Cass, United States senator, and Mrs. Pendleton of Capitol Hill. Thus, fully equipped as a company, and with the United States Marine Band, we paraded the streets of Washington, receiving quite an ovation along the line of march.

"We were to united with the regiment composed of the District companies at the city hall, but before doing so, marched to the residence of Mrs. Pendleton, south of the Capitol, where she, in a beautiful address, presented us with a splendid standard of colors, a handsome silk American flag with white streamers bearing our name in blue letters, a richly carved eagle surmounting the staff. Quite a novel incident occurred in the regimental drill which followed in the regimental drill which followed. In the Monument grounds, we took our position, the regiment dividing into battalions, each of two companies, with the captain of that on the right commanding.

Commanded Bearded Veterans
"As position in line was taken in accordance with seniority of each captain's commission, and as the Montgomery Guards, which, with mine, had formed a battalion, had lately elected their captain. I, by virtue of my commission antedating his, placed my boss on the right, and so I commanded both companies. A youngster thus commanding bearded men was a novel sight, but he felt his own importance and issued his orders like a veteran. After the drill was executed correctly he was heartily applauded by his own men, the Montgomery Guards and others.

"The regimental exercises occurred yearly, but we did not confine ourselves to them, parading independently often on various occasions. Once, when Gen. Scott visited Washington and was the guest of Mr. William Preston of Kentucky, then living on the present site of the Police Court, we, in full uniform, headed by the Marine Band, marched to the front of the residence, drew up in line, presented arms, the officers saluting with swords, while the old hero appeared on the steps. Gen. Scott made a characteristic speech, complimented us highly, said he would like to shake hands with us individually, but his host was then entertaining a large number at dinner and a number of ladies precluded that pleasure. Mr. Preston at this juncture appeared and upon his invitation we marched into the parlor, stacked arms and the general shook hands with each. Champagne was then ordered and the health of the commander-in-chief was drunk. We then left, satisfied with our reception.

"On another occasion we paraded through Georgetown and marched into the grounds of the college, were received by the college cadets, and were entertained at the home of A.J. Davis, one of the members, and Mayor Addison insisted on us accepting of his hospitality at the Union Hotel.

"In December, 1854, we boys decided to give our first annual ball, and to add to its attraction we had invited the Amoskeag Veterans, an old continental company of Manchester, N.H., and they accepted the invitation. We were all on the tiptoe of excitement and expectation and worked with a will, assisted by our girl friends, and the ball was held at Carusi's saloon and was a brilliant affair. The decorations were beautiful and effective and the quaint continental uniforms of the veterans, with the various ones of the District, added to the scene. Supper was served at midnight.

"Our popularity was assured, for the National Theater, on closing at the end of its season, gave the corps a benefit, for which a fine bill had been prepared and Prof. Esputa gave his services. After the performance a collation was set out at Gautier's French restaurant, on the present site of The Star office.

Always Observed the Fourth
"The Fourth of July was never forgotten by us. Usually after a parade through the streets and over the Eastern branch we went to Tucker's hill, where the day was spent in picnicking and sport. Every summer we chartered a steamboat and enjoyed an excursion to the White House pavilion, below Mount Vernon. In passing the resting place of Washington, while the boat tolled its bell, the company was always drawn up in line with hats raised and heads bowed in reverence to the illustrious patriot. In old times the custom of tolling the bell was generally observed. We had the misfortune to lose two of our members during the existence of the company. On each occasion we attended the funerals with military honors, marching with reversed arms to funeral dirges to the cemetery, where, as the last act of friendship, we fired a volley of three rounds.

"The company usually assembled for drill at our armory, on Capitol Hill, once a week, and after drill sports, story-telling and singing were in order. The discipline of military feeling and training sprang up among us as comrades and the pride we took in deserving the good reputation we enjoyed in the community developed in us those soldierly and honorable qualities essential to the forming of a true standard of American manhood. The lighter vein of joyous exuberance often broke forth in snatches of song, the words of which were fitted to the popular airs of the day. One to the tune of 'A Few Day' commenced:

Captain Jamison he turned out
A few days, a few days,
And marched his shanghais all about
Im going home.

"To the tune of 'Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel,' was sung.

Oh, the other day, you know,
The Scott Guards made a show
And went to see the President accordin'
And the President, he said.
That the captain had a head
To march them to the other side of Jordan.
So pull off your coat and roll up your sleeves,
Etc.